I literally couldn’t wait to read The Dutch House, because Ann Patchett is one of my absolute favorite contemporary authors. The premise was intriguing to me — an unusual house in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and the children who were cast out of it by their evil stepmother after their father dies unexpectedly.
My biggest takeaway was I liked it just fine. It was.. meh. It was textbook Ann Patchett: heavy on detail (she evokes the house, how it looks at night, the backyard, the fine rooms, the moldings and paintings), fascinating family dynamics (a somewhat overlooked and much smarter sister, sacrificing everything for her little brother, not to mention a mom who legitimately disappeared from her family one day).
Actually, come to think of it, The Dutch House is a lot like Unsheltered, a Barbara Kingsolver book. How much of an upbringing is because of the home in which it takes place versus the people who live in it?
One problem I had with the novel was it didn’t feel all that special. I could tell way far ahead that certain things would happen… Some of the plot did actually catch me off guard, but not too much. And the son Danny, as the narrator, is rather insufferable. I loved how he and his sister Maeve sat in the car in front of their childhood home, and how they had their best conversations there. That was most likely my favorite through point in this particular book.
Anyway, I recommend it but not over other books Patchett has written. Try Commonwealth instead, or Unsheltered.